Think Tank FC talks about running adult soccer clubs at the elite / semi-pro level in the state of Washington and the Northwest. David Falk is the Media Director for the Evergreen Premier League, Western Indoor Soccer League and Northwest Premier League. He founded soccer news website goalWA.net in 2011.
by David Falk
To some degree sports mascots are a matter of taste. There are those who think they are out-of-place at adult elite soccer matches, just like perhaps American style football cheerleaders could be. Some view mascots as ‘not part of the fabric’ of the beautiful game.’ Others see them as a way to bring in American traditions and entertain fans like mascots do throughout minor league sports in the USA.
Surf Dude and Sammy the Sounder
Surf Dude was a popular mascot for Tacoma Tide of the PDL between around 2007 through 2011. He allowed the club to play on its “Tide” name and also bring some summer flair to their matches. He was a favorite of kids at matches.
Sammy the Sounder was around during the USL days. Then he migrated north to Everett to become Sammy the Seawolf for a bit. There still is occasional discussion among fans about Sammy’s possible return to the MLS Sounders sideline. Nothing happening so far.
One of the classic moments in all of the USL Sounders era was when Sammy joined the Emerald City Supporters in their section the year they bought a fog machine to produce “smoke” after goals. Sammy took a few ‘bong hits’ from the machine, and soon ‘fog’ came rising up out of his blowhole!
You can’t create those kinds of moments without a silly mascot interacting with fans.
Though Sammy is official retired these days, he remains active on Twitter.
The Tacoma Stars have taken the mascot thing to a whole new level in their MASL era. Star Man frolics with Perry the Penalty Peanut and anyone else willing to dress up and dance to the music in Kent.
Worth the Money?
Mascot costumes can be expensive. $3,600 for Skeeter the Mosquito? But are they ‘worth it?’
In business, they can pay off big time if done right.
Unlike spokespeople that age, die, have affairs and do other things that can damage your brand, mascots are ageless brand representatives that help your target audience develop a closer relationship with your products.
They do not ask for raises, take vacations, get sick, or get you into trouble. In fact, mascots can actually make money for you when they are sold as collectibles or toys.
You see—Good branding says something about the company before a person actually has any interaction with it. Mascots tend to personify a brand, enabling a business’s target audience to better identify, remember and understand a company and its services. As ageless brand representatives, mascots serve as brand amplifiers that help a target audience to develop a closer relationship with a business. Perhaps most importantly, mascots can open up a small business brand to multiple markets; as more customers relate to a company and its mascot, the marketing message will receive wider and deeper engagement.
For small clubs that prefer ‘traditional football’ in the English tier system style…well, you should know that clubs over there have plenty of mascots roaming the sidelines and stands. In fact, Shortlist ranked some of them just this August.
Sure, in the Premiership mascots might be called ridiculous, but they are talking about them none-the-less. There is even this website dedicated to them: http://www.footballmascots.co.uk/. It might not have been updated in a while, but you can count on the press over there to get the news out when mascots start behaving badly.
While I wouldn’t spend my first $3,000 of club money on a mascot costume, I think eventually I would consider purchasing one. The ideal situation might be to have a mascot sponsor relationship with a business that ties in with your mascot theme and club identity. Imagine a Fishing Trip charter company sponsoring the mascot for the Snohomish County Steelheads. Could work nicely.
Revenue in Return
This article speculates on money-making opportunities with mascots. At the small soccer club level paying for a photo with the team mascot might not fly. But what about a mascot appearance at a party or other event? Think of the photo opportunities for a mascot touring your sponsors’ places of business and the social media avenues and content created or enhanced by videos and photos of your club mascot in action.
Inside the suit
Mascots do have their challenges, such as finding the right person to fill the suit. There are certainly some dos and don’ts to consider. And clearly it can all go very wrong if you don’t train your mascot, develop a character range for it, and set behavior guidelines.
Pedro the Puma was announced the same day that the Kitsap Pumas Soccer Club of Bremerton WA were born. The actual mascot suit appeared later, but Pedro the Puma has been to all sorts of Kitsap-area events over the years.